The Field Team
Field work by nature eventually ends. But if my project was going to continue, engaging the women of Bugolobi Market as local actors, content producers, communication facilitators, and decision makers within my project also needed to continue. This led me to organize a Field Team of Ugandan women and one man from both inside and outside Bugolobi Market who assist with development, deployment, and examination of the research project prototypes and outcomes.
During my 12 weeks of field work, I found myself engaging with a variety of talented Ugandan men and women. I spent a lot of time with Pharidah, as she is also the Uganda-side Research Coordinator for my graduate program. Her connections and references are invaluable, and because of her deeper understanding of my graduate program and its goals, she is well-equipped to provide research process support and guidance.
On November 12, 2012, as my first round of field work came to an end, I found myself rushing through Wandegeya up to Kisaasi for a meeting at Uganda Media Women’s Association / Mama FM. I arrived over an hour late, completely disheveled. Yet, I am so thankful that the women at UMWA / Mama FM still made time at the end of their day to meet with me, because it marked the beginning of a relationship that resulted in the ‘Imagine Internet’ workshop and ‘Open Internet’ session, smoothies and desserts at Good African Coffee, and now Joan and Cathy as highly-skilled Field Researchers on the Field Team.
Jude Mukundane assists with managing, updating, and de-bugging the script that runs the SMS System. I met Jude through my professor and thesis advisor Chris Csikszentmihalyi. Interested in discussing UTL short codes and learning more about Uganda’s coding scene, Chris, An Xiao Mina, Raymond, Jude, and I met up at the Wine Garage in Mengo. (Btw, the Wine Garage has truly chocolate chocolate cake, the best in Kampala.) Later, Jude and I ended up going to a poetry slam at the National Theatre and he introduced me to Mediterraneo, which quickly became my favorite restaurant in Kampala (I love it). Although I met many women passionate about digital technologies and applications through attending Apps4Africa at Hive CoLab and Ruby on Rails training sessions at Outbox, none of these women actually coded themselves, reflecting the poor training opportunities for women in the technology sector. With Jude’s extensive background working on a variety of technical projects, I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with him as the Script Manager for Field Team.
During our second phase of field work in February 2013, we stayed at the Red Chilli Hideaway — a short walk away from Bugolobi Market. The first time I purchased vegetables from within the market, I found myself at Gertrude’s stall. We discussed Internet cafes in Bugolobi Market. A few days later, I met Gertrude’s sister Juliet. During the weeks to follow, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Gertrude and Juliet, taking trips to Nakawa Market, sharing lunch together, and sorting and bagging potatoes. And looking back on my field notes, although I didn’t get to know her until she emerged as very adept with technology, Maama Zaina is in many of my photos and was one of the most vocal women during initial group discussions in Bugolobi Market.
Intentionally incorporating the Field Team builds upon the distributed strength of multiple perspectives, diverse skills, and various levels of influence. As the Field Team consists of both young professional Ugandans from outside the market and vendors from within the market, it not only serves as a point of connection to the market, but it also explores how the existing skills of the women of Bugolobi Market can be made a resource in the design process, further “changing participant profiles in the co-design processes from final users with problems and needs to actors that bring local knowledge, specific competencies, and ideas for solutions” (Manzini and Rizzo 2011, 3). Such a direct connection ensures that outcomes resolve local details without translating everything into the global, and establishes a space for women to exercise their ability “to act on events that directly affect them and that contribute to their individual and collective well-being” (McIntyre 2007, 40).
From working together to provide assistance with learning SMS functionality to meeting with various Savings Associations, the Field Team has now been operating in Bugolobi Market for seven weeks. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to learn from their expertise, and incorporate their discoveries into the research project.
Phardiah Ddamulira, Field Coordinator
Pharidah Ddamulira is a Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Child Development Specialist examining practicalities and trends of ‘best practice’ in programming for both Development and Humanitarian interventions in Eastern Africa with National & International Agencies. She has worked with regional legal and policy frame works for protection of children from abuse and violence. She has also worked as Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with Save The Children In Uganda, a “community Based Child Rights Protection and Policy Monitoring Project in Western Uganda.” She holds positions of responsibility with both local and international development and humanitarian organizations such as The Empower Campaign: Empowering African Communities through Educating Orphans and Vulnerable Children.
Joan Nankya, Field Researcher
“I am 29 years old, married with 2 children. I have worked with Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) since April 2010 as an intern on Good Governance and Human Rights, and now as a Fundraising/Marketing Officer. Previously I worked with Standard Chartered Bank and at the sub-county as aCommunity Development Officer. Some of my interests include traveling, playing karate, and watching television.”
Catherine Apalat, Field Researcher
“I am a Journalist working with Mama FM, a community radio station and project of Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA). I love development work because it influences change in society and media is a very important tool in mobilization for positive change for development.”
Jude Mukundane, Script Manager
Jude Mukundane is a software developer and technology enthusiast. His work mostly involves development of distributed applications communicating over IP networks. He is currently working with Uganda Telecom as Head of VAS and Technology Innovations to devise innovative ways of harnessing telecommunication technologies for service delivery. He worked on the Mobile VRS project with UNICEF for birth and death registration over USSD. (source: http://rootio.org/about)
Maama Zaina, Capacity Builder and System Administrator
Maama Zaina sells cold drinks and ladies’ clothes in Bugolobi Market. She is the Capacity Builder and System Administrator, putting a name to the tasks she performs on her own accord: providing added support during field visits and working one-on-one with women to help them learn the full-functionality of their phone, join the SMS System, and translate/read/write SMS messages. Spending committed time working one-on-one with women in Luganda is further empowering the women to work together to overcome usability obstacles as they begin to teach one another.
Social innovation1 often requires conscientization2. In addition to building technical capacity, Maama Zaina also builds shared capacity and consensus, often acting as the spokesperson and advocate of the women’s views. Her role is contributing to conscientization as the women are prompted to reflect upon their realities and identify opportunities for the SMS System. Rather than ICTs being ends in themselves, the SMS System serves as a tool for increasing social capital, self-reflexivity, and collectively-organized social innovation.
Maama Zaina also documents market activities through photography.
1“Dynamic processes where different actors behave actively and collaboratively in order to imagine and realize desirable social change” (Manzini and Rizzo 2011, 3).
2“Conscientization requires local people to engage in critical reflection about the structural power of dominant classes in order to take action against oppression” (McIntyre 2007, 3).
Juliet and Gertrude, Creative Directors
Juliet and Gertrude are sisters who sell tomatoes and onions in Bugolobi Market. Gertrude is attending school for business administration; she hopes to be an accountant. Beginning in mid-June, both Juliet and Gertrude will continue their experimentation with the Samsung Galaxy Pocket as Creative Directors. Their role especially, but everyone’s role on the Field Team, is meant to foster openness to new actors with new ideas and alternative approaches to technology development, introduction, and integration.
Manzini, Ezio, and Francesca Rizzo. 2011. “Small Projects/large Changes: Participatory Design as an Open Participated Process.” CoDesign 7 (3-4): 199–215.
McIntyre, Alice. 2007. Participatory Action Research. 1st ed. SAGE Publications, Inc.